Noble cheered by Collison bow

Mark Noble has spoken of his pride at seeing Jack Collison and James Tomkins involved against Arsenal on New Year's Day.

The 20-year-old was thrilled to see two more follow him from the Academy into the first-team set-up, with both named on the bench at the Emirates Stadium. Reserve-team captain Collison, at 19, is five months older than the 18-year-old Tomkins and the midfielder went one better than the England youth international defender by being called into action.

Collison entered the fray when Freddie Ljungberg limped off just before half-time and, although a low point for the team in terms of the injury, Noble focused on the positive. Especially as his young team-mate got his opportunity at such an impressive venue against a team regarded as potential European champions. "Jack must be really happy to get his debut at the Emirates. He will never forget it, I know that.

"I was really hoping they would get a chance today," he said. "Jack got a lot of the game because of Freddie's injury and I am a bit gutted Tomks never come on but he will get his chance soon." Noble will not be the only one happy - Academy director Tony Carr can now point to five players involved in the first team, with Anton Ferdinand and Kyel Reid the other two to have gone right through the ranks.

As a fellow midfielder, Noble's meteoric rise has set the benchmark for Collison to follow but the energetic box-to-box midfielder is not doing too badly on that front. As well as captaining the reserves this season, the Watford-born talent, who possesses a fearsome shot, has been capped by Wales at Under-21 level - starring in recent competitive match wins against Bosnia-Herzegovina and France.

He and Tomkins will certainly be in the frame for Saturday's FA Cup game against Manchester City with Noble admitting those who have played over the holiday period were perhaps feeling it in the 2-0 defeat on Tuesday. "There are so many games over the Christmas period. It is unbelievable. I think the boys looked tired in the second half but we enjoyed the game and we can take some positives out of it.

"I enjoyed it as you always will at Arsenal. We conceded two sloppy goals on our behalf and paid the price really because we created some chances in the first half. They cleared off the line and we had a few other good chances so we just needed to hang in there in the second half and not make it an embarrassment - and we did that."

  • Log on or register with WHUTV to see an exclusive interview with Jack Collison on Wednesday as well as hearing from fans' man of the moment John Pantsil. There will also be full match highlights to come, along with each and every other game played this season. You can also see more of Collison and Tomkins in the Bubbling Under channel.